Academic misconduct

The University takes any instances of academic misconduct very seriously, and expects all of its students to behave in a manner which upholds the principles of academic honesty.

The College regularly checks coursework for evidence of academic misconduct.  For example, similarities between work submitted by two or more individuals can indicate collusion or copying; electronic search checks online are regularly made to detect plagiarism from information available on the web.

Note too, that details of academic misconduct are kept on your file.  When we come to write references for you for potential employers, we are asked about your honesty and integrity. It is therefore essential that you recognise what academic misconduct (including plagiarism, cheating and collusion) is.

It is important that you reference all sources you consult in any coursework.  The penalties for academic misconduct apply to both formative and summative forms of assessment, i.e. the same penalty would apply if the coursework formed part of your overall module mark, or if it did not count at all.

All students are required to complete the online ELE course ‘Academic Honesty and Plagiarism’. Please read both the resource text in full AND complete the online quiz.  Failure to do so could impact upon the release of marks later in the year.

Another web-based course, The Internet Detective, provides a useful tutorial that will help you to develop Internet research skills, and provides instruction on how to use the information available while protecting yourself from plagiarism by always acknowledging your sources and by citing and referencing them correctly.

For a full description of the University's procedures for handling and penalising cases of cheating, please refer to the University Code of Good Practice on Managing Academic Misconduct.

What is cheating?

Cheating is defined as any illegitimate behaviour which may deceive those setting, administering and marking the assessment.  Cheating in a University assessment is a very serious academic offence, which may lead ultimately to expulsion from the University.

Cheating can take one of a number of forms, including but not limited to:

  • The use or possession of unauthorised books, notes, electronic aids or other materials in an examination;
  • Obtaining an examination paper ahead of its authorised release;
  • Collusion, i.e. the representation of another’s work or ideas as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement or referencing, where the owner of the work knows of the situation and both work towards the deceit of a third party. This differs from plagiarism where the owner of the work does not knowingly allow the use of his or her work;
  • Acting dishonestly in any way including fabrication of data and impersonation, whether before, during or after an examination or other assessment so as to either obtain or offer to others an unfair advantage in that examination or assessment;
  • Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of representing another’s work or ideas as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement or referencing. There are three main types of plagiarism which could occur within all modes of assessment (including examination):

  • Direct copying of text from a book, article, fellow student’s essay, handout, thesis, web page or other source without proper acknowledgement;
  • Claiming individual ideas derived from a book, article etc. as one’s own, and incorporating them into one’s work without acknowledging the source of these ideas;
  • Overly depending on the work of one or more others without proper acknowledgement of the course, by constructing an essay, project etc. by extracting large sections of text from another source, and merely linking these together with a few of one’s own sentence.

Students are encouraged to work together to facilitate learning and team work. However, for work which is assessed on an individual basis, it will be normal practice for collaboration to cease prior to commencing actual work on the item to be assessed.

Avoiding plagiarism

In order to avoid being accused of inadvertent plagiarism, you need to ensure that you adopt the following aspects of good practice:

  • Adopt a good note-taking technique;
  • Make sure while you are reading and taking notes that you keep accurate records of the author, title, and publication details of the source (including page numbers, if relevant);
  • Make sure in your own notes where you have copied a quote word for word from your source, so that when you come to write up your notes you know which parts are in your own words, and which are in the words of your source;
  • Make clear in your own notes where you have taken an idea from your source;
  • Make sure that you have referenced your work in accordance with the referencing guide set out by your module tutor – remember, referencing conventions do vary between modules.

It is advisable that students keep systematic written notes of the sources that you use whilst composing any written assessments.  Without such notes, it will be very difficult to avoid committing plagiarism.  They will also evidence how you have approached and developed your work, and therefore provide a robust defence in the event that one of the plagiarism detection systems used by the University casts doubt on the integrity of a piece of submitted work.

Referencing Guidance

Referencing correctly is an essential academic skill. You are required to refer to the sources you use when producing written assignments at university. There are several reasons for this.

  • It gives acknowledgment to another person or organisation's ideas and research.
  • It demonstrates your reading and provides evidence for the argument you are making.
  • It helps the reader find the source of the information and ideas in your writing.
  • It helps you to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism means presenting another person’s words or ideas as your own or modifying another person’s words and ideas without proper acknowledgment. Plagiarism, whether deliberate or accidental, is not tolerated within the academic community at the University of Exeter. For more information on how to study with academic integrity, look for the ‘Academic honesty and plagiarism’ module for your discipline on ELE.

For guidance on all the referencing styles currently in use at the University, including examples and where to get further help, please see